The Ministry of Defence made a number of announcements yesterday, including changes to monetary benefits for Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) and Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen), a revised Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) format with fewer stations, and a new scheme that allows NSmen with civilian professional expertise to voluntarily contribute to defence.
The announcements were made to media at the dawn of SAF Day, held every 1 July to thank those who served NS for their contributions to the nation.
The changes to monetary benefits were part of the recommendations made to the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS). It includes S$6,000 more in Medisave grants in addition to the current S$9,000 or S$10,500 each service personnel stands to receive in their Post-Secondary Education and various Central Provident Fund accounts.
The benefits will kick in from September this year. The grant will be split into three stages, as with the earlier benefits: At the completion of full-time NS, at the halfway mark of the operationally-ready training cycle, and at the end of the cycle.
As of today, NSMen who travel overseas will also find it easier - they would be required to notify MINDEF and the Home Team notification centres only if their travel is more than 14 days but less than six months. Trips longer than six months will require an exit permit.
Changes to the annual IPPT stations would also make the assessment simpler by reducing the number of stations. Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen was quoted by media as saying, "“We are looking for a simpler format so that more NSmen can train in their own environment with types of exercises which are just simpler to do and also, more importantly, meet our goal of using the IPPT to incentivise, to encourage, to remind NSmen to be fit.”
Dr Ng also noted that Singapore's IPPT system is one of the few in the world to use five stations for assessment, while other armed forces use three or four. It has not been announced which stations will be removed.
Those who continue to fail their IPPT can also opt to spread their 20 remedial training over a longer period.
SAF also launched the Expertise Conversion Scheme (ECS), which is meant for NSmen who have completed their Operationally Ready NS commitments to contribute voluntarily in their areas of civilian expertise, which includes law, medicine, engineering, psychology and info-communications, to continue contributing to NS.
The first batch of ECS personnel will be completing their conversion this month. The NS statutory age for ECS personnel will be raised to 50 years old, similar to NS officers. It is not known if volunteers under the ECS will receive any benefits.
Image - Cyber Pioneer